A few months ago, I came across a quote from Stephen King that was recently reintroduced to me by one of my friends on Facebook. "Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength, and doing what is right in the face of adversity. Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend."
In a simple but eloquent tone, King captures the beauty of what the Harry Potter series is, and what Harry Potter has meant to hundreds of millions of people that have grown up in a generation full of adversities and hate: By being true to yourself, your friends and believing in what you know is right, perseverance and positivity will always gain the upper hand. The Harry Potter books and films evoke a unique emotional connection with its characters and, in particular, a distinctive connection for the generation that has grown up with Harry.
There’s something about Harry Potter that makes it special in comparison to Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Star Wars captured multiple generations with its state-of-the-art special effects, and introduced audiences to out-of-this-world planets and beings; Lord of the Rings brought forward a cast of heroes and brilliant imagery that expanded the imagination tenfold. But Harry Potter introduced something else: the ability for the reader or watcher to become emotionally invested in the well being of a character, a feeling of empathy, sympathy and compassion that one typically feels towards friends or family, not the character of a novel or movie.
I remember reading Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix, where readers are introduced to the passively aggressive Dolores Umbridge. Never before have I had such disdain for someone that didn’t even exist; the fact that this Umbridge character was bringing such misery to the lives of the students of Hogwarts filled me with rage at what a horrific person she was. I’ve never read the Twilight series, and have no intention of doing so, so this is probably most ignorant of me to say, but I challenge anyone to find a character within that series as brilliantly developed as Umbridge--a character who evokes not only anger, but passion and care for those that she encounters.
The Harry Potter films specifically have an emotional attachment that simply came with the package of making the films: watching Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint (Harry, Hermoine and Ron) grow up. We heard Daniel and Rupert’s voices drop five octaves between the first and fourth movie, and we watched Emma grow into a stunning young woman. In a way, the 1990s and 2000s generations grew up with the three of them, so watching the books and films franchise come to a close is a lot like watching a lifelong friendship come to a close.
Although Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 brings a conclusion to years of adoration, Harry Potter isn’t going anywhere. My kids and my kids' kids will forever get to benefit from Harry Potter the way my friends and I all have. By picking up a Harry Potter book or re-watching one of the movies, an immediate transportation into a world of magic and unique, identifiable characters is prompted. Which, as Stephen King suggests, is why generations to come will forever, because of Harry Potter, be able to find their own inner strength and do what is right, regardless of the consequences.